The very first website - info.cern.ch - was launched in Aug 1991 called the "worldwide web project".
A year later an additional 9 sites joined the world wide web. By 1994, impressive growth of 2000% saw the rise of Yahoo. The one million mark was breached in 1996 (Amazon launched in 1995), ten million in 1999 (Google in 1998, Paypal in 1999), 50 million in 2003 (Wordpress and Linkedin), 500 million in 2011 and by now possibly 2 billion websites. *
This is extremely impressive growth indeed and shows no sign of slowing down. However, not Some are "parked", with the domain name used entirely for email addresses. Possibly as much as 75% of domain names are actually not active. But the fact that so many have been registered means that the domain name is active and unavailable for others which does lead to the newer problem of naming conventions.
Having a website in and of itself does not bring anything other than minor expense. It is above all, a quick and easy marketing tool; a place where a company or individual shows itself to the world. The idea is usually to convert that exposure to hard cash, either directly though sales or indirectly through exposure.
The real underlying problem in the 90's was simply this : we have this great new tool. How do we convert it to a cash return? The solution was offered in typical brash, un-informed style : measure clicks, get advertising revenue based on eyeballs. The rush was on to get clicks and for that reason, the purpose of the website got lost in the purpose of getting clicks.
Some websites were roaring success stories and exist to this day. These are the ones that found ways to be really useful, offered a product that consumers really wanted and were happy to pay for. Paypal is an example of this. In other instances, money has been lost in spades. Due to impressive growth numbers, the stampede to be the "first" at something led to all sorts of horror stories. The story of pets.com is one that business schools will use for many years to come as an example of what not to do. Without a doubt, this was a story of a plan that never existed, parachuted into a market that wanted a grand "first past the post" success story. And ended up with a blow-out which ultimately tanked the US stock market.
Way back in 1998, it was a novelty to click on a button and await your supplies at the front door. Problem was, that revenues were small and marketing costs were high which of course has one inevitable outcome. But those were the days of 'wild west' e-commerce and missing out, meant missing out. The company went public, listing on NASDAQ in Feb 2000 after raising $82.5million. Most of the money went into advertising and warehousing. They discounted products and offered free shipping with the intention of building customer loyalty. Problem was, that loyalty was great when they were selling stock at substantial losses, but less so otherwise. Its not at all surprising to reveal that this model failed and rather spectacularly at that. The door closed on this sad chapter less than a year after listing. Its unclear what the business plan was if indeed there ever was one. But what is clear is that the exponential growth of internet websites brought out an investment fever. Money was thrown at people with no clear idea of how to obtain any return at all, other than "build it and they will come".
What about the other side of the coin : Who creates all these websites? Where are they hosted and who maintains them?
Now there lies the real story of how the internet works because there simply aren't the number of skilled staff to maintain code to support all these websites. Welcome to the world of content builders and frameworks.
A content builder is a way of creating a website without any knowledge of how to create websites. Its a drag-and-drop' system, where the user can change content at will and be assured that the website will still look great, act great and fulfil its purpose. A builder is really a website that allows someone to build websites without knowing anything about websites. Also known in the industry as CMS or content management systems, anyone with a bit of time on their hands can work it out eventually. The idea behind a website builder is that one can download a template and manipulate it so that you get what you want. The coding, design, graphics and text are all held totally independently of each other so that by amending only the text and graphics, one can get a professional looking website without too much fuss.
By far, the biggest content builder in the market today is Wordpress with some estimates saying that about one in three websites today are Wordpress enabled. It never started out that way, but the key to its success appears to be a feature called 'plug-ins'. A plug-in is a stand-alone bit of code that can be downloaded and seamlessly integrated into a website and perform a unique task. For example, a website may have a plug-in which allows colourful graphs to be displayed of its data. Or perhaps send an email to a user if they register on the website.
So the market for plug-ins has flourished, supplying some 50,000 or so into all manner of applications. Some are by subscription or once-off fee. However, most are for free, with a vague intention of driving traffic to the coder's own website.
Wordpress started its life as a blogging system, but due to its internal consistency and security was identified as a serious front-facing tool and eventually as "the" tool. There are currently free download options as well as paid-for options with extra features. A lot of these features are created within the Wordpress "community" who have an interest in keeping the web set up to a universal standard. Its competitors in drag-and-drop builders include Wix and Weebly; for CMS's it main rivals are Joomla and Drupal. All of which lag far behind.
More sophisticated websites which require extensive once-off coding may use a framework. A framework is also a downloaded product, provides some easy tools to use but by and large displays very little on its own. Its a secure way of setting up unique content without having to start with a blank page. Almost all frameworks work within the structure of MVC or model-view-controller. This works extremely well for any medium-to-large application by splitting off the data (model) from what gets displayed (view), using an interface (controller). Only highly skilled programmers can work on frameworks. The most popular ones today are Laravel, Codeignitor, Yii and Symphony.
Websites are hosted mostly on shared servers. A server is really a computer with a big hard drive. With disk space becoming cheaper, servers can offer more space at less cost, which has given rise to the now common-place online graphics and videos. In addition, web infrastructure has strengthened to a point where watching online video content is seamless. Bigger companies or websites that require a high degree of security may have their own dedicated servers.
All this has given rise to different types of web development work. A graphic designer may only do graphics and layouts. Wordpress developers will identify the correct theme (the 'look and feel') and obtain the right plug-ins for a client. Frameworks are exclusively for data engineers and coders. Servers are maintained by people who understand terms like "load balancing".
So where to next? Some see connected devices becoming a part of our lives, like fridges that can determine the levels of food and automatically re-order. Others see advances in artificial intelligence or digital currencies. Perhaps data security will be the next big thing. Lets wait a few years to find out.
[Source : e-strategic.net]